The Comptroller and Auditor General report has shown that at the end of last year, the Department of Social Protection had outstanding debt of €495 million relating to scheme overpayments to claimants, and that a large proportion of debtors are not repaying debts.

In any five-year period, the report said around two thirds of overpayments are recovered and one third are written off.

From 2018 to 2022, the department recovered an average of €76 million per annum, but the report also noted overpayments of €112 million per annum. During that same period it wrote off debt of €181 million.

Every month the department makes payments to 2 million cliamants and has a budget of €24 billion per annum.

The reports said the department is required by law to recover overpayments, but that the debt managment process is "relativley complex".

The department does not apply fines or interest on debts.

The report also noted that the department paid out €9.2 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Payments, but that there was €50.5 million of overpayments under the scheme.